Friday, June 29, 2012


Every type of catastrophic event leaves devastation behind. Some allow more preparation while others are bolt-out-of-the-blue. Some leave bits and pieces of property to be recovered. Others leave nothing but ashes or bare concrete slabs.

Outsiders are grateful for lives saved. Victims wonder how they will start over. Some blame God. Others blame karma. The truth lies in our planet's day-to-day rhythms.

Of all the catastrophic events, only fire can be started with purpose. Not all fires are arson. Many are started by lightning.

Humans look for someone to blame when disaster strikes. That's a natural reaction--part of the grieving process that we go through when dealing with the terrible aftermath. It takes a while to accept that things are never going to be the same.

Some will pray. Some will cry. Others will use anger to cope. Where there are extended family or friend networks, the victims will most likely recover more quickly because they'll have someone to hold on to.

As a species, we are amazingly adaptable. If we weren't, we would never have survived so long. That doesn't mean we don't occasionally need a helping hand or a hug or an attentive ear.

If you're in a position to pitch in, please do so. In the end, we are all one.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lost marbles...

So...yesterday when I went to physical therapy they added a new exercise...picking up marbles (forty-four of them!) one at a time with my toes and dropping them in a small container. The first five or ten weren't bad.

Then they instructed me to purchase some marbles for home and do the same nifty exercise morning and evening, every day. So my quest for today was to purchase marbles.

You might think that wouldn't be much of a quest, but you would be wrong. Apparently, kids don't play marbles anymore. I will say my foot got quite a workout as I checked out store after store in my search for marbles.  

No one had marbles!

Finally, on the suggestion from several different individuals, we drove out to the next county to a Michael's craft store. And they did not have marbles. However, in the floral department, they had little glass balls in the correct size so I purchased those, breathed deep and since I was in the store...had a quick gander at what else they might have that would interest me.

Markers (a specific type I use for maps) and no, they no longer carry them so you can buy them individually. Now you have purchase a pack of twelve in the colors they choose to put together--at $20 a pack.

Brushes. Teeny, tiny brushes for my calligraphy borders. Average price, $4. Brushes purchased, eight. They're a good investment as they will last about two years if I take care of them properly.

Horehound drops for my sore throat.

And one container with lid for the marbles...$1.

Getting out of the house?



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Which way...?

The hunk and I went grocery shopping this morning. As happens quite often the older I get, the time came when I needed to dash off to the ladies room. Naturally, I headed toward the back of the store in search of the restrooms.

Naturally, they weren't located back there in this particular store. this store they were in the front!

Here's my question: Why isn't there a standard location for restrooms in stores? Why??? And why aren't there BIG signs with the directions?

Consider the most likely people to patronize the public restroom...parents with small incontinent children, old people with touchy bladders, and individuals with upset bellies. All those people need speedy access to the restrooms! And yet, yet, I say, each store does it's best to hide the bathrooms! Yes, they do!

By the time you finally track down the exact location, it might even be too late!

And another thing! Why do stores routinely move all their merchandise to different locations so you can't find what you need? And WHY would they locate Ovaltine in the breakfast cereals instead of with the other products used to make chocolate milk? Why???

Why are milk and eggs always located at the back of the store? Why are there no prices on the produce and no handy-dandy clerk around to ask about it? Where do they all go, anyway? Ah-hah! I know. They're in the disappearing rest rooms!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Fire and Flood

Summer is here. We are once again in the season of Fire and Floods.

In the western mountains, huge fires gobble up acres and acres of forests along with homes and towns.

In the eastern gulf, tropical storms dump rain by the foot on coastal communities, spin off tornadoes and wash away beaches.

In the midwest and south, drought stalks the land, killing trees, cattle, and wildlife. 

This is summer in the U.S. of A. The only variables are the exact locations where these events will strike and the people they will affect. For those who believe it cannot happen to them--grab a dose of reality.

Be prepared. Now. While you have the time to think about the things you would need to have with you if you must evacuate.

And if you have a couple spare dollars, donate to the charity of your choice. Those folks under the gun will need the help.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shadows on Stone

“What the hell?”

Russet’s head came up. “What?”

“Where did that come from?” Max pointed at the black clouds billowing on the horizon ahead of them. “The radar doesn’t indicate anything out there.”

“That’s a huge storm out there. How can the radar not see it?”

“Gather everything in the cockpit, and stuff it down under the back seats next to the grocery boxes.” He caught her before she chucked the pillow back there, stopping her with a firm grip on her arm. Hold on to that. If we go down, you’ll have it to cushion your head.”

“Well, that made me feel better.”

“That was my goal. Keep your eyes peeled for a possible place for us to put down.”
“Where the heck are we?”

“About an hour from our next refueling stop. And that’s on the other side of the storm.”

He saw her point to an enormous swirling vortex in the clouds. “What the hell is that?” she yelled. “Is that a tornado?”

“I don’t know!” Max bellowed as he fought to keep the plane airborne above the high Adirondack peaks while the black storm clouds bubbled and churned ominously all around them. From the corner of his eye, he saw Russet double-check her seatbelt harness. “Good idea.”

“There’s no way to fly around the storm?”

“We were. The storm is coming to us.” Max scowled as he studied the jagged terrain below. The crazy splotches of brilliant oranges and golds blanketing the steep mountains on the New York-Vermont border were nearly obscured by thick cloudy mist. Lightning flashed all around them, dancing frenziedly on the peaks as thunder rolled and boomed, shaking the sturdy Skyvan.

They were in trouble. Deep trouble. Alarmed and pissed off, he double-checked the weather forecast. Radar wasn’t indicating storms anywhere within a couple hundred miles. Well, they sure as hell were in the middle of a storm with a capital S. He desperately searched the steep mountainsides for a reasonably level place to set the plane down.

With shocking speed, the black clouds swirled around the plane, sucking it into the weird formation. As they flew through it, the engines made odd, little coughing noises. In the flickering light, they shot free of the cloud. He spied a narrow valley with a long meadow and drifted down for another look. With a fatalistic mental shrug, he decided it would have to do and lined up for his approach. “We’re going down!”

A resounding roar accompanied a brilliant flash of light. Seconds before his emergency touchdown, the engines went silent with an ominous plink.

And stuff happens...

Want to know more? Just click on the bookcover!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Loaf of Bread, Jug of Wine

Two weeks ago, I chose to make a radical change in my life. In the foreseeable future, I will not eat or drink anything (but water) in my office. If I want a cup of coffee, it's consumed at the dining room table. Breakfast? Dining room table. Lunch or dinner? Dining room table.

Now you might say, "So what?"

Perhaps, you've always done it that way, so it wouldn't be any big deal to you. I, on the other hand, have spent much of my life eating someplace other than the table.

Breakfast--and that's a very loose definition--was stuffed in my mouth while I drove to work. Lunch was picked at while I answered phone calls and typed at work. And dinner was a zoned out space while I watched a forgettable television program.

When I retired and starting my writing career, I continued on with the same regimen, with small changes such as reading Facebook or e-mail, but really, other than a change of venue from the car to the office, what's the difference? So as I sat with my prescription bottle in my hand, unsure of whether I'd actually taken my meds while distracted by commenting on someone's post, or maybe not...and really, my meds are not the type you can take twice... Yes, well, I came to the conclusion changes were in order.

The final straw was when I discovered I had missed enough of my diabetes meds to make up an entire ninety day supply. That certainly got my attention!

My new regimen is simple. Every meal, every snack, every cup of coffee, tea, or soda (though I must add I quit drinking soda!), every break is spent at the dining room table, with no television, no computer, no telephone, no distractions.

A couple interesting things came out of this. A) I discovered the taste of food. Amazing. Who knew food had such varied flavors and textures? So that's why restaurant food always tasted so good. Huh. When you pay attention to what you're eating, you actually appreciate it. Or not. A couple things I eliminated from my menu...

And B) I discovered a certain impatience when I had to stop what I was doing, go to another room, consume whatever, and then return to my occupation. Drinking water is easier. I also consumed more water, even though I really don't like water! So what does that say about the other things I might have consumed while brain dead at the computer?

And C) I stood up. And moved around. Trotting back and forth to the kitchen, dining room, kitchen, and back to the office meant I wasn't sitting on my duff for unending hours--something that is terribly dangerous and can cause blood clots.

Side benefits: I drink less coffee. I get up once in a while. I drink more water.

Here's my challenge. For the next two full days, don't consume anything except at the table (or for those of you who like to drink morning coffee on your deck...okay). No snacking while reading, watching television, playing with your computer, or talking on the phone. This isn't a diet issue. It's a taste issue.

I'm curious. Report back. How'd it go?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Belly Laughs

I don't remember the last time I laughed, really laughed from deep in the belly until tears rolled down my face. Do you?

I believe we're missing something. We smile. We might giggle (females) or chuckle (males) but we don't roar with laughter anymore. Is it because we don't have anything to laugh about? Or is it because nothing is funny?

I remember watching old Disney movies--no, not the cartoons--but their live action movies. With Six You Get Eggroll, The North Avenue Irregulars, Hot Lead, Cold Feet, Candleshoe, The Apple Dumpling Gang... And I remember laughing. Laughing out loud until I cried.

Do we laugh at anything anymore?

Not too long ago, I was reading a book while waiting at a restaurant. It was a scene where a single guy was babysitting three little boys. The situation wasn't necessarily so funny, but the writer's gift for description was hilarious. I was laughing, trying to keep quiet and not make a spectacle of myself. A woman at the next table asked what I was reading--because she wanted to read something that would make her laugh.

Another author and I were talking. She said, "People won't buy humorous stories." Why not? In this day and age, don't we need laughter more than ever?

What do you think?


Friday, June 15, 2012

Casual Friday

I wonder how casual Friday came about? How casual is casual? Do you suppose a sports bra and undies is too casual for home?

What if we had Casual Monday, instead?


Thursday, June 14, 2012


Reviews. I just haven't figured out why anyone would worry about them. Human reaction to every form of creative endeavor is so visceral, so personal, I cannot understand our fascination with the reviews submitted by total strangers.

Every possible artistic creation resonates differently by the individual. One person looks at a painting and loves it. The next is left totally cold by the artist's vision. Neither is wrong.

Music, art, the written word, movies and plays, all resonate for humans at different levels. Reviews are simply opinions stated by individuals. Some are stated more publicly than others, but that doesn't add value to the opinion.

Value can only be conferred by me. If I trust another person's judgment, then I give it extra weight and respect. How can I possibly confer value on an opinion offered by someone unknown to me?

Recently, I read a list of reviews for a book I particularly enjoyed--so much so that I've read it several times. The reviews ranged from hated it, did not finish to loved it, this is on my keeper shelf to everything in between.

When I finished the last post, I finally accepted the truth about reviews. Each one is an opinion--valid, but of no particular value--unless I allow it to have value. As my friend, Amarinda Jones, observes, "Everyone has an opinion."


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alien Slugs and Rainy Days

So. We went out for the hunk's doctor appointment yesterday. It was raining. Naturally. Not the wimpy little sprinkles the weather people call rain, but actual big rain drops pounding the car, killing visibility, and settling in ponds on the street.

You would think in that case everyone would slow down. And you would be wrong. No, no, no. In a demonstration of insanity, everyone decided the traffic was really an unannounced street race. With predictable results.

Added to the misery was the chaos committed in the name of security when the President of the United States decides to visit someplace obscure. In this case, it was the village where I live. Streets were closed. Traffic backed up.

Why? Does he really think it endears him to voters? Really? I think not.

After all of that, we actually arrived at the doctor's office on time. He had his exam. The report was good. He's cancer free and isn't scheduled for another appointment for three months. The alien slug we all call cancer was defeated.

Good show.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Likely Stories

In the last few weeks, I've read a lot of stories. A LOT of stories. (Not all of them were in books. Some were news items.) Is it just me? Or are the heroes getting dumber? I know men have the reputation for thinking mostly with their penises, but I'm wondering if maybe that's all wrong. That would be giving some of these heroes too much credit. I would say they employ their little toe.

Of course, after watching some of the hi-jinks the men in the entertainment industry, banking industry, and the politicians commit, maybe, just maybe the authors are giving their heroes more smarts than they should.

Every man cannot be as stupid as the ones I've read about. Every woman cannot be as conniving as portrayed by the author. When did we change from having decent characters to the dregs?

I don't want to read about men and women who make immoral decisions without a qualm. (And I'm not talking about sex here.) I've read about heroes or heroines who cheated, lied, stole, set up an innocent to take the fall for their own criminal behavior, abandoned a child, and used drugs.

There are decent men and women all around us. Those are the characters I want to read about. So authors, listen up! Cut it out. If you don't know any one who could be a real-life hero or heroine, then you're hanging out with the wrong people! Time to find some new friends so you have some experience to base your characters on. Real people with real lives. The good guys.


Monday, June 11, 2012


When we went shopping today, we traveled a back road that had recently been repaved. It had freshly painted yellow lines down the center and white lines along the edges. The last time we were on this particular road, I noticed the hunk tended to shy away from the edge, but today he centered the car squarely in our lane.

I suspect we are more comfortable when we have clearly marked lines to denote our place. Of course, we've all encountered the rogues who insists on taking their space from the center of the road rather that sticking to their lane. But as a matter of safety, most people stay in their designated spot.

We use lines to designate more than place. We use them as a sign of normalcy. "He doesn't color in the lines..." My philosophy was simple. Once you have learned the skills required to color in the lines, then you can make informed choices about coloring outside the lines--or indeed, drawing your own lines in life.

In this day and age, few people create their own lines. Even those who believe they are traveling on the unbeaten path rarely understand they are merely moving along a different set of pre-set lines. It requires courage, meticulous planning, and determination to careen off the road, flying over meadow and mountain to an unknown destination. Few of us have the perseverance and fortitude to forge ahead, regardless of obstacles in our way.

It would no doubt be safer if everyone stayed within the lines. But few new discoveries would be made, few new accomplishments would occur if we were all content to travel the same roads. Too bad we don't celebrate the few who dare to explore, the men and women with the courage to stand for the ones who are too broken to stand, and the adventurers who seek out new avenues to achieve old goals.

Of course, for every explorer there must be a tried and true support group who are content to travel within the lines. It's a fortunate circumstance that every individual has a place, a vocation, a role that's exactly right for them. The secret is to find it.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Digging In

Writing is just about the most solitary occupation in the world. The author spends ninety percent of their time inside their head working out dialogue, plotting the demise of the bad guys, engineering the happy ending for the hero and heroine and devising an interesting world where all that happens.

The trouble with working alone're alone.

There's no input from a team. No brainstorming with a partner. No response from a reader. The author just slogs along, typing words into the computer with minimal feedback or encouragement.

Inevitably, you reach a point where you're convinced you suck. Yes, you do. If you didn't suck hairy eyeballs, readers would be clamoring for more of your fabulous prose. Your books would be selling like Harry Potter. Oprah would invite you to appear on her show.

That's exactly the point when it's the hardest to dig your heels in and keep writing. It's easy to write when everything is going well--when you have a string of five star reviews and a royalty check that makes your eyes pop. But when that check wouldn't buy a candy bar and the reviews are pitiful, it's tougher to keep on plugging.

There are scads of stories about authors who wrote for years before their first book was published. There are also stories about authors who made a million dollars by self-publishing when they couldn't break into the closed publishing world. Most of us actually end up in the middle.

Breakout stars are few and far between, just as in any other creative field. For every famous actor, there are thousands who never make it past waitressing at the local diner. And even more who spend their entire careers in bit parts.

Why do they continue? Because...they might get their break one day. Because they love what they're doing. Because they're convinced they're the one who's going to be a star. That is the nature of creativity.

In the end, all of them will fade away, moving on to other endeavors--except the one who does it simply because they love it. Writers who are there for the money will find some other way to earn the bucks. Writers who write with the hope that they will be a big star will settle on another way to shine. But writers who love to write, well those writers will write if they never sell another piece.

There's a vast chasm between writing and receiving a big royalty check. Some (likely even most) will never bridge that span. Most of us will remain on the mid-to-low list, pathetically happy when we receive a good review or a lovely fan letter. It's not necessarily fair. I've read books that should have been bestsellers yet languished in obscurity. And I've read bestsellers that were horrible wallbangers. Unfortunately, it's that way in all walks of life.

Timing, connections, being in the right spot at the right time all play a part in success. None of those have anything to do with our end product. Quality rests on our individual shoulders. All else is a crap shoot.

Our chance of success is nil if we don't keep writing.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spelling Challenge...

At one time, you seldom found misspelled words in published work. Everyone knew how to spell and those who didn't owned a dictionary and knew how to use it.

The bad thing about having a misspelled word in a print work's a done deal. There's no way to go back and fix it until the next edition (if there is one). Unlike digital works, the author, the readers, the publishers have to live with the mistake. Today author Jayne Ann Krentz pointed out and apologized for an error in her newest print book--and promised it would be rectified in the paperback edition.

Now with digital, it's a different story. That same book was also released in digital form with the same error. And that can be corrected immediately. So any reader who buys that book in say...the next week or so, should have the corrected copy.

But what about digital errors on the Internet? Who do you tell? One of the headlines on the Weather Channel was "Tender, Dry Conditions Keep West Fires Burning". No, I don't think so. That would be "Tinder". That's the stuff that burns.

While I'll be the first person to say that everyone makes a mistake now and then, it seems to me the number of spelling mistakes is escalating. And calling them typos isn't addressing the real problem. Part of it is carelessness. But a bigger part is ignorance.

You read that correctly. The days when spelling correctly was a matter of pride are gone. The day with an author checked word usage and spelling in a dictionary is gone. Sadly, many simply shrug and move on.

Some even ask, "What's the big deal?"

For a reader like me, it's a matter of tossing me right out of the story. Too many tosses and I toss your book. Once I do that, I'll never buy another. Remember, competition is stiff. There are millions of books out there for me to read. And my time is limited. Why should I spend time and money on your book if you don't care enough to make sure you're using the correct word? It's a two way street.

I think that's probably why I re-read my older books rather than buying new. Yeah, I think so. Authors, publishers, editors took pride in their work and delivered a quality product. As for Ms. Krentz? She's promised to make good on the error. I'm proud to read her books.


Sunday, June 3, 2012


The luminaria were all lit by many, many, many people at the event including us and once the sun went down they said a prayer and the bag pipes played in the front of the procession. By candlelight we all walked as one in memory of those that have lost their battle and in honor of those that continue to survive was awe inspiring and breathtaking...the sound of the bag pipes and all of us together it is hard to put into words what it was like.~~Jennifer Stella at Relay for Life

Thank you to each and every person who sponsored me!!!  

Amarinda Jones, Dollar General Ladies, Helen Woodall, lla G., Vania Czumak [Jade Artistry], Kristin Kislowski, Lisa DeStefano Garcia, Mary Koch, Jane North, Berengaria Brown

Passing on the message for my daughter...


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Truth about selling books...

Recently a reader wrote to me, complaining because she couldn't locate a certain book of mine. At that time, she also commented that it would be much easier for my readers if I had "buy" links for the books on my website.

In response to her remarks, I dealt with the missing book and added buy links to the covers of all my posted books on my website. A couple days later, another reader indicated some disappointment because my buy links were all for the original publishers of the books rather than third party sites such as Amazon, Barns and Noble, and All Romance e-books.

So here's the truth about purchasing e-books from third party sites. You're going to pay more for that privilege. Needlessly. Because almost all publishers' sites sell their books in all the formats you could possibly need.

That's right. You don't have to buy from a particular third party site to purchase your books in your chosen format. AND you pay more on the third party site. In most cases, you pay considerably more for exactly the same book.

By going to my website, you save time and money. The links take you directly to the page for each individual book. That page has the blurb, and excerpt, and all the information to buy the book. And in about ninety percent of the cases, the book is less expensive.

This is not only true for my books, but most books at established digital publishers. So the next time someone recommends that you buy their book through their publisher's page...think long and hard about it. You could save a bit of dough--maybe even enough to buy a second book!

Check out my webpage!

Friday, June 1, 2012

This is my daughter...

Jennifer Stella

At age 32 I was diagnosed with cancer…wow how my outlook on life instantly changed…you only live once so I want to get it right this time.
The Relay for Life Rhinebeck event is two days away and I really need each and every one of you to help me reach my goal of raising $500 [currently at $150.00]! This is very important to me and those of you who are my friends and family will open your wallet/purse and donate even if it’s $5.00, what you give in charity always comes back to you.
I walk for survivors and those that are not. You can walk with me, and/or show your support by sponsoring me in the walk at the below link.
She also walks for the house hunk...